2007-12-28 / Community

Beachcomber

The year 2007 marks another year of growth for The Wave. In 2004, the Wave's 52 issues included only one that was 100 pages in length. That was only the third 100-page paper in the 111-year history of The Wave. In 2005, The Wave published five 100-page papers. In 2006, a year of unprecedented growth, this newspaper published 15 100-page (or better) papers. In 2007, that number increased to 27 100-or-better-page papers. We want to thank all of our readers and advertisers for helping us to grow each year, and we wish you all a happy and healthy new year.

Talks towards a merger of our two hospitals - Peninsula Hospital Center and St. John's Episcopal Hospital, have been ongoing for some time without much community notice. The idea was first floated in the November 2006 report issued by the New York State Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century. That report called both local hospitals "outdated" and called for one state-of-the-art facility in Rockaway. The sticking point seems to be the location of a new facility. While The Wave is not privy to the conversations, which are being coordinated by the Queens Borough President, we understand that some demand that the facility be in Far Rockaway, at the eastern end of the peninsula, so that it can still serve Five Towns clients, while others want it in the center of the peninsula to better serve Rockaway residents. The talks are ongoing, and we'll try and keep you abreast of the latest happenings, but there seems to be an aura of secrecy around the talks.

Some people are unhappy that The Wave ran the story of Brian McNamee, the man at the center of the major league baseball performance enhancing drug scandal. One woman accosted a Wave editor inside Dunkin Donuts on Beach 116 Street on Saturday, loudly protesting that both the front-page photo of McNamee with a group of local little league ballplayers and the story should not have been printed in a local paper because, "now all his children's friends at PS 114 will know what their father has done." At the end of the year, it's probably a good time to remind everybody that The Wave is a newspaper and that it prints the news. If we withheld a story each time it angered somebody or would harm somebody's sensibilities, we would have a blank front page each week, and that wouldn't serve the community well at all.

Speaking of secrecy, nobody is talking about the extra money needed to turn the planned YMCAon Beach 73 Street into the facility many Rockaway residents would like it to be. Right now, the Y does not include a six-lane pool or an enclosed gymnasium, and a group of Rockaway residents have formed a committee to come up with the necessary five million bucks from public sources. A few weeks ago, a spokesperson for the mayor told The Wave that the city had signed off on a plan to use some of the money pledged by the Port Authority to local communities to complete the Y. That spokesperson said that Dan Doctoroff, the head of the city's EDC, had approved the money and that the approval was sent on to the PA. So far, however, the PA has been very tightlipped, not only with us and with the Rockaway committee, but with local elected officials, who have been working with the committee to come up with the needed funds. Right now, we're looking at a February 1 deadline for either moving ahead with the planned facility, or receiving the money for the enhanced Y.

The good news this week is that construction on both the Y and the planned Super Stop & Shop, which will be built right across Beach 73 Street from the Y, will begin in the spring. The supermarket will be the first in the development of more than a dozen shops and restaurants in that area, all centered on the Transit Plaza set for the Beach 67 Street A Train line.

It was clear from the beginning that the police officers involved in the shooting of Rockaway resident Sean Bell would ask for a change of venue when their case comes to trial early next year. The fact of life is that juries outside of New York City are more amenable to police defendants, even those who mistakenly shoot an unarmed man. Witness the Amadou Diallo case in 1999, where the case was shifted to Albany and the officers were found not guilty. Should the case be shifted out of Queens? Experts differ. Al Sharpton has already begun his public relations blitz aimed at coercing the court to keep the case in the local jurisdiction, but there is something to be said for the contention that the cops can't get a fair trial in Queens, what with all the publicity surrounding the case in the city's daily papers and on television. It's going to be up to the judge to make the final decision, not Sharpton and not the Detectives Endowment Association. There's a lot to be said for both sides of the argument, and it's going to be a tough decision for Judge Cooperman. Queens DA Richard Brown has publicly stated that he wants the case to remain in Queens.

When Allstate Insurance began canceling local homeowners' insurance for those who did not have automobile insurance with the company as well, many locals had to scramble for new policies. At the time, the company announced that they were dropping policyholders in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the forecasted damaging hurricane seasons to come. Recently, the state insurance department ruled that the cancellations were illegal, and Allstate promised to reinstate the policies it dropped. The catch is, those who get their policies reinstated must promise not to sue the company for dropping them in the first place.

SO,WHAT'S THE STORY?

Have a news tip or story for us? Need exposure for a community-based organization? Know someone who should be recognized for outstanding work in the community? Want us to provide coverage at a community event? Just give The Wave a call at 634-4000. The Wave covers the entire Rockaway Peninsula and Broad Channel.

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